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From the Pacific Coast to the North Atlantic Right Whale

Regina Asmutis-Silvia is Executive Director of WDC North America

WDC’s internship is designed to give interns a taste of life at a marine mammal non-profit.  Interns are exposed to everything from science, policy, outreach and even supporter relations.  I think internships are the best way to test the waters and find out if a particularly career path is the right one.  There are fewer rewards in my work than to watch an intern discover their passion and have a small hand in helping to guide them toward it.  Below  you will read a blog from Mel, a 2019 intern who found her passion in policy.  I have no doubt that Mel has a bright future in marine mammal policy work and will be part of the legacy of saving North Atlantic right whales.  Thank you Mel for your hard work, your passion, your logical and scientific approach, and your kindness.  The marine mammal policy world will be better with you in it.  – Regina

"I arrived at the WDC ‘whale house’ fresh off a week-long road trip across the country from my home town in California. I had packed up all my belongings, loaded my two cats, and set off in my car to start an internship that I had been looking forward to for months. Even though I wasn’t sure what this experience would lead me to, I was sure that I needed to take the opportunity to delve deeper into the conservation field that I love so much.

Soon after arriving I hit the ground running into the summer swing of whale watch season. Learning to identify whales as individuals left me with an impression of closeness to each one I saw, and being out on the Atlantic Ocean felt like visiting the extended family of my familiar Pacific Ocean. But each day as we pulled back into the harbor, I knew that I wanted to do more. I didn’t just want to record sightings of the whales and dolphins, I wanted to be a part of the decision-making process which affects their lives."

Mel on the boat with a whale

Mel on the boat

Mel and Archie cropped

Mel and her office dog soulmate, Archie

"I found  time to speak with Regina and pick her brain about the dynamics of policy work, and before I knew it, I was sitting in on joint-organization phone calls working on the SAVE Right Whales Act. I was given comment letters to study the current efforts of right whale conservation, such as WDC’s joint-NGO letter to NOAA’s Assistant Administrator, Chris Oliver, asking him to implement conservation measures in light of the string of right whale deaths over this summer.

As a result, I didn’t just become captivated by the endangered right whale; I knew quickly that this type of work was what I wanted to be involved in. I jumped at the chance to take on any policy task that Regina gave me."


Mel continued her journey in right whale policy throughout the rest of her internship. Stay tuned to her next blog about finding her passion in policy work.



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North Atlantic right whales are one of the most amazing species we currently have on our planet and we want to keep them here. They are currently facing avoidable harm and we want them to be surviving and thriving!

We can't do it alone though.

Helping right whales is complicated. It is a complex problem with many moving parts. We don't always have one clear and simple action for you to take to make a difference. When we do need your help, it may come up suddenly and need a quick response.

When you Raise your RIGHT hand and pledge your support, you're becoming one of our right whale first responders. When something urgent comes up, we want to rely on you to take our message, follow through with the action items, and tell everyone you know!

It is only by working together that we will give these whales a chance at survival.

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